Sociology is first and foremost the study of populations. Sociology focuses on everyone that makes up a population. Sociology focuses not only on the behaviors of a population, but it also focuses on the attitudes, values and mores of a group of people. It focuses on a population’s oral and written history, but more significantly, the rituals and traditions of a culture. Because you and I make up a population, sociology focuses on our attitudes and values.
More importantly, information derived in sociology forms research that is conducted and compiled. In sociology, populations are defined in a number of ways. A population can be grouped by age, class, race, ethnicity, religious affinity and socio-economic status, in addition to a number other cultural descriptions.
In sociology, researchers study populations, but in public relations, practitioners study publics.
For public relations, sociology is very important for one main reason. Because sociology is a discipline devoted to studying populations, naturally the public relations field would seek it out in understanding their own publics.
Remember, the main goal of public relations is to inform, to persuade, and to build relationships with publics in which they serve. For this reason, sociology functions in conjunction with public relations in a few ways:
These are just a few of the organizations that might use sociology in forming impressions about the populations with whom they build relationships.
While there are a number of measurements, the two main types of sociological research methods used to study populations are qualitative and quantitative.
Quantitative (involving numbers) research simply involves data collection, whether it involves online metrics, polling, and interviews. Qualitative (involving some characteristic) research data involves getting information by having participants fill out surveys (i.e. email and web-based surveys).
Because of technology, the amount of data that can be compiled can be done so quickly making researching a public much easier and efficient for organizations.
Public relations heavily relies on sociology to form impressions about the publics they serve. The importance of sociology is it gives public relations professionals a foundation from which to build relations with other organizations and potential publics.
By using sociological methods, organizations can more accurately address the needs of the populations they serve all in the effort of building long-term relationships.
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